Monday, November 21, 2011

With my mind on my money and my money on my mind

I hate budgeting. I hate thinking about money, nor am I good at it. I guess there are very few people who like watching their pennies, but sometimes I wish I was someone who could get satisfaction seeing their balance grow dollar by dollar when saving money. But I am decidedly NOT one of those people.

Since we bought our house this summer, I am much more concerned about our finances. Actually, moving to a mortgage helped bring down our monthly payments, but now I have the future to worry about. How long will the roof last? We need a new water heater. The AC is on its last legs. I would love to add an outside entrance to the kitchen. The list goes on and on.

Most of the time I feel very lucky financially. I am able to stay home with Wiggle. We just bought a house. We have health insurance. We are able to have only one car, and that car is in good condition. So many families are not nearly in as good a situation as we are, especially right now. We are lucky, and I know that, but that doesn't mean that I can be careless with money. And there are still plenty of times when it would be really nice to do this AND that, but we will have to decide to do this OR that. Not really hardship, but as we approach the holidays, and we get closer to adding a new bambino to the family, and as I apply to go back to school officially, a little breathing room would be nice. This means that for the next few days, I will be looking at bills, going over receipts, trying to plan out upcoming expenses, and generally get mired in our money matters.

Afterward, I hope to have a better idea of where to and when the money is going out, and when I can expect to be able to do things like buy a new refrigerator or renovate the bathroom. I am not in a huge hurry because I don't envision having tons of time to manage any major projects in the next few years between school and the baby, but it would still be nice to know that I am working toward being able to make those changes.

It will also perhaps help me reign myself in a little more when I crave some retail therapy. I do not consider myself an extremely wasteful person, but I do have a hard time prioritizing my purchases sometimes. Also, when I need a jumpstart even though I have a million things I could do around the house for free, I would generally prefer to look for new towels or try look for the exact-sized basket for that shelf that is clearly standing between me and complete and total organization, and therefore happiness. I couldn't grow up in Dallas and not have some of it rub off on me after all.

In order to curb my retail tendencies lately, I have turned to another Dallas favorite - make-up. Feeling down? Sequined purple nail polish or bright red lipstick do seem to help a little. If nothing else, they make cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming under the couch a little more glamorous.

Once I get the money thing figured out, I can move on to the master schedule that will allow me to fix-up the baby's room/empty it of clutter, finally finish our kitchen cabinets, read all of Game of Thrones, knit a few items, whip up a few Christmas gifts, finish going through all of our photos on the computer, and generally relax during the month-long Christmas break. I mean it's just a good schedule that I need, right? I can't imagine having to adjust my expectations. That couldn't possibly be the problem.

I guess it's gonna be awhile before "Satisfice" will be my middle name.

A little fall fun in the leaves

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Food for Thought

After three days of eating way too much candy, my body was starting to totally rebel. I was sluggish, my hips were hurting even more than usual, I was nauseous and downright cranky, so it was time for some real food. We went with one of our favorite recipes for fall and winter, Fried Eggs Over Warm Lentil Salad with Lardons. This is one of those recipes that is delicious, easy to make, and even includes some things that are good for you, but it's as comforting as homemade macaroni and cheese or similar artery clogging fare. We sub kale for the spinach and just add it to the water the lentils cook in and then add a little more vinegar at the end because kale is even more tasty with vinegar. I didn't take any pics because we wolfed it down before any rational thought about it could take place.

Wiggle ate his portion with gusto too; he especially liked stirring the runny egg yolk into his lentil mixture. He would say "goo, goo, gooey!" every time he stirred. That kind of makes it sound like he talks in baby talk, but let me assure you he does not.

Now that we have entered November, I am feeling a little backed up on all of the things I have to do. I have so much to do and it's so hard to keep track of all of it that I had to spend my precious library time this morning just getting things entered into my to-do list and calendar. And then, of course, the holidays are coming up, which I love and am looking forward to, but also involve planning ahead or we won't get to do a bunch of the things that I really look forward to every year.

I have been better about managing my expectations though. Normally, for Halloween I like to carve pumpkins, and this year we picked a few beauties for carving, but then Halloween arrived, and we hadn't carved them yet. I decided that carving didn't make a lot of sense anyway since Wiggle wouldn't get to carve his own, so we just decorated two of them in the 30 minutes before we went trick-or-treating. Wiggle loved it, they looked cute and festive, and we didn't have to take a family shower or mop the floors afterward. I'd call that a win.

I'm hoping I can come up with more shortcuts like that for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we still get to enjoy the festivities leading up to the holidays, but that we don't have so much on our plate that we can't enjoy them.
One thing I am looking forward to and will need some advance planning is Wiggle's advent calendar. Last year we did a chocolate one, and I'm not really into the idea of his getting 24 gifts leading up to a day where he gets a lot of gifts, but I saw this one with little boxes and couldn't resist.
YRSNÖ Advent calendar, Santa Claus Height: 17 ¾ "  Height: 45 cm
This awesome Santa is from IKEA.
I will put Hershey's kisses or the equivalent in at least a third of the days, but I'm having trouble thinking of things that can go in the rest of them that aren't immediate choking hazards. For 3or 4 of the days, I might have a note directing him toward a gift that would not fit in the box, like a felt ornament for his tree. He's totally into Christmas this year, so I'm pretty excited too; can you tell? Plus, we have a chimney for stockings! 

See? It's really easy to get ahead of myself. I still have tons of homework, a major paper, some home improvement tasks, and some baby preparation to get through before I can think about Christmas.

Right now, I will settle for getting through the weekend without taking a nap on both days. That would be another one I would put in the 'win' column right now.